Auction Update Review
Thirteen Sales Archived
Again this week the market for photographs dominates the recently archived auctions. Sotheby’s and Christies, as is their wont, occupied center stage. Between them they accounted for $9.4 million of the $17,470,256 archived. Overall 7,028 lots were offered and 5,356 lots sold for an 76% sell-through. Total sales for the week achieved 88% the aggregate high estimate of $19,709,957. It’s always a good sign when the total of all sales approaches the aggregate high estimate but given that 48% of all sales were for photographs I’ll hold off with the hosannas as far as books are concerned.
Heritage also had a good week. Their two sales, of Signature Historical
Manuscripts and Rare Books raised $2,791,673.
They are making an impression and making themselves felt.
For the recent reporting week the following houses achieved at least 100% of their aggregate high estimate:
Christies - Travel, Science and Natural History on 4/6: 165%
Sotheby's - Photographs on 4/6: 130%
Jeschke - van vliet - Medical Books on 3/26: 122%
Ader - Books, Photographic Collection on3/31: 101%
Christies - Photographs on 4/8: 100%
Sotheby’s and Christie’s, anymore, are less interested in material that brings $1,500 to $5,000 but Swann, Bonham’s and Heritage understand very well that most important collections contain a mix of high and mid-level material and to land complete collections its necessary to sell all the material. Another important collection will probably be consigned this week for sale, its contents this very mix of expensive and less expensive material. Auction houses want to hold to a standard but collectors, over a lifetime acquire things that together form a collection but may not, in every case, meet the minimum valuation an auction house sets. They are often going to consign to houses that will handle all their material.
We counsel the sale of complete collections rather than parts because  for the collector, a catalogue is a fitting and somewhat enduring end to a collection and  when material is marketed as a collection it almost always does better than when its disparate parts are scattered among many sales.
Many collections will be coming
out, some of them the property of dealers who have worn both dealer and
collector hats for many decades.